Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is one of the oldest ski resorts in France, but there is far more to this beautiful area than snow and slopes. It sits in a picturesque valley in south-eastern France and has fewer than 10,000 residents, spread out over 16 tranquil hamlets and villages.
While skiing is the most popular activity in the area, there are a lot of other attractions, including museums, historic railways, fine-dining restaurants and monuments. Winter adventure holidays are generally aimed at adult travellers and families with teenage children, but there are some attractions that are suitable for younger children too. Here is a list of some of the most popular sightseeing options.
The Chemin de fer du Montenvers, also known as the Montenvers Railway, is a historic rack railway line that takes visitors from Chamonix to Mer de Glace. The line officially opened in 1909 and was modernised to take electric trains in 1953. The track takes visitors on a scenic journey through the Haute-Savoie region and the terminus at Mer de Glace stands at an altitude of almost 2,000m, offering some spectacular views.
Mont Blanc Tramway
The Tramway du Mont Blanc is another scenic railway route in the Haute-Savoie region. This tramway runs from the Nid d’Aigle to the Tete Rousse Hut, covering 12.4km of amazing landscapes, including quaint villages and beautiful mountain views.
The Brevent Cable Car and Restaurant
Even if you don’t plan on going skiing, it is well worth taking a ride in the Brevent Cable Car. It offers a two-part ride and if you head to the top of Mont Blanc you will be treated to some absolutely spectacular mountain scenery. Once there, you have the option of hiking to the nearby lake or stopping off for a meal at the restaurant and taking in the panoramic views.
Parc de Loisirs
This family-friendly leisure park sits at the foot of Mont Blanc. There are more than 15 activities to enjoy at the park, including slides, swings, toboggans, trampolines and more. Most of the rides and activities are suitable for young children but there are a couple that will appeal to older visitors as well.
The Alpine History Museum
If you’re the sort of person that likes to learn about the history of the places you travel to then this museum should be on your itinerary. The museum tells the story of Jacques Balmat, the daring crystal hunter. It also looks back to the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786, as well as covering more recent history and the rise of winter tourism. If the weather is bad and you are looking for some indoor activities, this is a good place to spend an afternoon.
Relaxation and Fine Dining: Hameau Albert Premier
This luxurious property is one of the best-known hotels in the valley area. In addition to the high-end hotel, the Hameau Albert Premier also houses a restaurant which has been awarded two Michelin stars and a boutique store and spa.
This hotel is well worth a visit, whether you choose to stay there for a few days, just sample a spa experience or simply stop by to go shopping and enjoy a gourmet lunch or wine-tasting session.
This rustic 18th-century barn has been converted into an attractive eating space where visitors can enjoy some local delights, including snails with garlic butter, foie gras and pineapple carpaccio. The food is spectacular and the relaxed, classical ambience makes this a great place to visit after a hard day’s skiing.
La Cremerie du Glacier
In 1926, the entrepreneur Georges Ravenel started a business selling drinks to hikers out of a small wooden hut at the foot of the Argentiere’s glacier. The business was a success and in the 1950s his son expanded the menu to include cheese with toast and home-made tarts. The business is still running today. Ravenel’s grandson took over in the 1980s and the hut is still well known for its fondue and other local staples. If you are skiing in Les Grands Montets then La Cremerie is a good place to visit for a quick, delicious home-made snack.
Cham’ Aventure is a thrilling adventure tour that takes tourists out on to the River Arve and the Dora Baltea. The tours take between two hours and a full day, depending on whether you go rafting, canyoning or hydrospeeding. These tours are aimed at thrill-seeking adults and teens and are generally not suitable for young children.
Paragliding from Planpraz
If you are there during the summer, why not see the valley from a different perspective? Instead of going walking or climbing, take to the skies and enjoy paragliding from Planpraz or Aiguille du Midi. There are several paragliding schools in the area and tandem flights offer an affordable and accessible taste of this exciting sport.
This guest post was sponsored by Peak Transfer a company based in Chamonix, Mont Blanc offering private and shared airport transfers, in resort transfers and day trips.